Local 338 is an amalgamated union representing four separate bargaining units: Kaiser Aluminum - production/maintenance and clerical/technical workers, Kaiser Alutek workers, and LB Foster pre-cast/railroad ties division workers. We number more than 1000 private sector members who work primarily in manufacturing industries in North Eastern Washington.
From time to time Trentwood hosts guest tours of the plant. When these tours take place I usually get questions and feedback from members on the floor. Most of the feedback comes from people who don’t understand the importance of visitors touring the plant. Frequently, those comments focus on the amount of preparation that goes into a guest tour. For some there is a perception that tours are nothing more than staged “dog and pony shows” with patterned routes that leave out the real nuts and bolts that make Trentwood what it is today. As a means to dispel those myths here are the facts and why it’s important to put our best foot forward. Generally speaking, plant tours can be broken down into several categories:
(1) Executive tours usually include Kaiser board members and corporate executives. These are the people who have the ability and authority to recommend and approve capital investment. Since 2005 more than 240 million dollars has been invested in new equipment at Trentwood. Some of you can remember that in 2002 plant manning levels were down to about 230 hourly employees. Today, because of that capital investment approximately 850 people are employed in flat rolled products.
(2) Customer tours allow clients and potential customers an opportunity to view the equipment and processes in use at Trentwood. As a rule, customers want to see what we do and how well we do it.
(3) Investor tours give visitors a chance to see the equipment, operations and the infrastructure of the plant. As can be expected, investors want a look at what they have already invested in, or in some cases about to invest in.
(4) Public Relations tours take in political leaders, community leaders, government officials and other dignitaries. PR tours promote good relations.
Whenever visitors tour Trentwood it’s an opportunity to showcase the plant and the people who work here. Many of you have participated in these tours and have helped explain our processes and how the equipment works. Having taken part in several tours, I always walk away impressed by the knowledge, skills and professionalism of you our members. Over the last 40 years I’ve toured quite a few factories and so far I haven't seen anything that compares to our plant and the people who work here! We would all like to see more investment at Trentwood. Future investment means prosperity and good paying jobs that include long term job security. The next time you see a tour headed your way, remember, first impressions can say a lot about us as Steelworkers.
INCENTIVE COMPENSATION UPDATE
The Incentive Compensation Plan (ICP) through the month of May looked encouraging. Core cash flow surpassed the 2013 cap which reflected only a slight increase in inventory. At the time this article was published we still had not met with management to reconcile the 2014 threshold and cap adjustments. Phase 5 and 6 capital investment projects coming on line this year will determine any increases in the threshold and cap. The contract specifies capital investments exceeding 4 million dollars in a calendar year will be multiplied by 15% and applied to the threshold and cap. It’s important to note that the four modifiers ended the month of May at +6%, setting a new record for May. Information on how the ICP is calculated can be found in the Master Labor Agreement. For specific questions regarding the ICP please give me a call at the union hall.
ATTENDANCE CONTROL POLICY AND FMLA
FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) Website - http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/
Several times a year we are called on to represent members who have accumulated attendance points and are in jeopardy of losing their jobs. In some of those cases had the employee known, they could have requested time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and had their attendance points waived. We frequently hear from members who say they did not know FMLA could be used for a personal medical condition. In fact, there have been several cases had the employee applied for FMLA and been granted leave, they would not have ended up in the disciplinary process. In light of conversations I’ve had with some members, I’m sure the majority don’t understand how FMLA works. A loose explanation of the federal guidelines states that qualified employees can take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and personal medical reasons. Eligible employees are entitled to twelve work-weeks of leave in a twelve month period for any of the following reasons:
· Serious health conditions that makes the employee unable to perform the job;
· The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
· To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition.
Employees who have questions about FMLA or how to apply should contact Vicki at extension 6427 or Kathy at extension 6423. Don’t wait to apply for FMLA until after you’ve accumulated attendance points due to a medical problem.
2014 ANNUAL MEETING
On March 11, the Annual Meeting between Kaiser Aluminum and the Steelworkers took place here in Spokane. Annual meetings are called for in our contract and provide a forum for both parties to discuss wide-ranging issues which affect each of the plants covered by the master agreement. This year Jack Hockema, President and CEO of Kaiser Aluminum, opened the meeting with a business presentation for our local's executive board. Jack shared his concerns over metal pricing in 2014 and the advancing infringement of foreign competition but was upbeat over recent capital investments coming online at Trentwood. He reiterated the importance of improving quality and delivery performance as being fundamental to our success. During the general session we reviewed and talked about plant safety, workers compensation, healthcare, the incentive plan, disabled veterans returning to work, retiree services, and VEBA. This year’s annual meeting presented a much needed opportunity to work at resolving several outstanding issues for Trentwood and Local 341(Newark Ohio). I’ll give a full report at our next union meeting on April 8th.
Dan Wilson, President—Local 338